Last night, when I saw my reflection in the mirror, it actually startled me. My daughter was simply brushing her teeth, and I was helping her steer her toothbrush into her mouth and away from the nasty drain (where she likes to put it). And when I glanced up into the mirror, I jumped. Because this woman with black mascara and eye-liner drooped about half an inch lower than where it should be, and looking much like a zombie, was staring back at me. “Whoa!” I exclaimed, and quickly grabbed a tissue and wiped off the melting mascara that had somehow turned me Zombie Mommy by night fall.
To be honest, I was kind of surprised I hadn’t scared anyone else in the house with my horrifying looks. You’d think as I was coaxing my two year old daughter, with my arms wide out to, “Come here!” she would have shrieked with panic and hidden under her bed or something.
But she didn’t.
You see, before I saw “Zombie Mommy” in the mirror that night, we were actually having a lot of fun. And I was doing something I don’t do nearly enough–I was playing with her. Not like, “Oh, that’s cute honey,” while I distractedly went through my facebook newsfeed. But I actually put my phone and iPad away, and was fully hers. We were in the living room playing what she was calling “the boat game.” (One of my childhood favorites.) It’s where you take the couch cushions and make them a giant raft on the floor, and then the big storm comes, and you save each other from the sharks, and rescue each other from drowning in the “water,” and you scream the whole time. (I highly recommend it.)
And while this was going on, and we were shrieking and saving each other and rolling around on the floor–I had no idea my hair was a wreck and my eyeliner had smeared below my eyes, and that I looked like a zombie. I just knew I was having fun, and so was she, and in that moment, that’s all that mattered.
The great thing about being Zombie Mommy is that before you look in the mirror and see a zombie staring back at you, you are usually having a fantastic time.
I fully agree with John Piper who says, “The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness.” (pg. 33, Don’t Waste Your Life) You wouldn’t take someone to the Alps and lock them in a room full of mirrors. Because the greatest joy doesn’t come from seeing how great you look, it comes from gazing on a majesty that is greater, and more powerful, and more glorious than yours.
And in motherhood there is something greater than the Alps right in your living room. There is this glory right in front of you, staring back in the eyes of a little boy or girl who very much bears the image of God. And His glory.
But sometimes we miss it.
I wish I could say I don’t care what I look like. But I still do. And while I’ve come a long way from the girl who used to check her make-up during 8th grade Social Studies class, and reapply my lip glass and Champagne eyeshadow (anyone else?) during study hall–I still care very much about that girl in the mirror. And she sometimes the girl in the mirror takes me away from the little girl in the room that is waiting for me, and longing for me, and crying for me to come and play ” the boat game.”
Though I don’t want to totally “let myself go,” I have to say, sometimes I really admire Zombie Mommy. Because, there is a reason she looks like a zombie, and no matter how “ugly” she looks, there is usually a very beautiful reason behind it.
And to the mom who looks like a zombie tonight–you are exactly where you need to be. Every time you nurse your baby, or change a diaper, or fall asleep in the glider–you are being a living and breathing example of love. And while you don’t need to feel guilty if you do find time to primp, you don’t need to feel bad about the times you don’t. Because those times you don’t, and you are blissfully unaware that your mascara is down to your cheek bones and your hair looks like Medusa–are actually some of your most shining moments, in your kids eyes. They won’t remember if you had your make up on, or your hair was straightened, or if it was in a giant messy bun–but they will remember that you made them feel loved. They will remember the time you rolled around on the floor and played “the boat game,” or any game at all. They will remember your laughter, they will remember your joy, and the way your eyes shone when you looked into theirs. And they will remember always, your arms open out wide to embrace them, and hold them close.
And as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t make you a zombie. It actually makes you quite beautiful.